Help! I’ve Been Hijacked!

Have you ever had that feeling that you’ve been hijacked? No, not literally hijacked on an airplane bound for Boston, then suddenly headed to Havana. But maybe you’ve been hijacked by someone else’s agenda. Perhaps you know the feeling of moving forward resolutely toward your own goals and objectives when suddenly, you find yourself writing copy for someone else’s campaign or you’re volunteering for a cause just because you couldn’t say “no” to that persuasive friend. Everywhere we turn we’re faced with opportunities, decisions and invitations, most of them well-meaning but with the potential to distract us from our own powerful missions.

Recently I wrote, in dry-erase marker on my bathroom mirror, “Don’t get hijacked by someone else’s agenda.” This reminds me, daily, to consider the invitations that come my way. Do they support the mission I’m on, to create a world where people love what they do and do what they love? Are they part of my strategic marketing plan? Is the opportunity one that aligns with my commitments, passions and brand? Or am I just caught up in the moment, swept away by someone else’s (well-meaning) enthusiasm for their own project? The writing on my bathroom mirror cautions me to take the time to stop, think, and reflect before saying “yes.”

A while ago I read this quotation by Warren Buffett, the famous business magnate, investor and philanthropist:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”


This quotation initially shocked me. For many years, I had lived by the credo, “Just say yes!” For someone who “smells” opportunity everywhere, I was convinced that staying open to the world, and saying “yes,” would move me closer to my goals. The wisdom of Warren Buffett turned my thinking upside down and made me very uncomfortable–it seemed so ungenerous! But after much reflection, I think I understand. Successful people stay committed to what they say they are committed to. Reluctantly, we can’t do everything. The “really successful people” maintain a laser-beam focus, resist being distracted and refuse to get hijacked by other people’s agendas. We can wish them well, and stay open to possibility. But in order to make a really big “dent in the universe,” as Steve Jobs famously said, we must maintain our own mission, purpose and direction. We have to practice discernment. When in doubt, refer to your strategic plan. If you don’t have a strategic plan, let’s talk.

“No” is a Complete Sentence

If there’s a soundtrack to our lives, I favor Broadway hits. And one of the songs that I grew up singing was “I’m Just a Girl Who Cain’t Say No” from the musical “Oklahoma!” With its charming twang and its double entrendres, this is a song that seems to summarize the plight of us card-carrying people-pleasers. When we’re invited to volunteer, participate or contribute, our first instinct is to say, “Yes!” And before we know it we’re committed, which is a hop, skip and a jump to being over-committed. Continue reading ““No” is a Complete Sentence”

Create Your Own Sabbatical

This month I celebrate the four-year anniversary of fulfilling a life-long dream that I’ve come to think of as my sabbatical: I lived in Paris during the month of August 2010.

As the daughter of a university professor, I understood early that the word “sabbatical” means time off granted to tenured professors in order for them to rest, recharge and do research in their area of study. My own sabbatical was inspired by the death of my mother the previous year. There’s something about sitting by the bedside of a loved one who is dying that inspires us to look at our own lives and think about the things we’ve left undone. One of those things, for me, was living in Paris.

In college I studied French, fell in love with the language and the culture and was determined to someday study in  Paris. I also fell in love with my husband-to-be and instead of taking my junior year abroad, I got married. No regrets… I just told myself, “Oh, I’ll get to Paris someday,” never imagining that “someday” would be more than thirty years later.

During those last few weeks of my mother’s life, I was visited by an urgency to accomplish my dream of living in Paris because I was painfully aware of how short and precious our lives are. In the absence of a university committee, I granted myself a sabbatical–and you can, too. Here’s how:

  • Make a declaration. Even university professors have to lobby for time off–and so will you. But it won’t happen unless you give yourself permission and the power to declare your sabbatical to the world. Like any big goal worth achieving, your commitment comes first–then you can figure out how to make it happen. I began my sabbatical by declaring, first to myself and then to anyone who would listen, “I’m going to Paris!”
  • Talk it up. When I first began talking up my Paris sabbatical, I had no idea how I was going to make it happen. I had some money saved: check. I had some frequent flier miles to cash in: check. I had the blessing of my husband (once I invited him to come visit for a week): check. And I had an idea of the time frame: I wanted to stay a full month, and I wanted it to happen within the year. That was about as far as my planning had gotten. However, by sharing with everyone I knew, I began generating resources. My business coach Jackie Sloane connected me with a friend who owns an apartment in Paris. (Please contact me if you, too, are looking for an apartment in Paris and I’ll hook you up.) The dates of the apartment’s availability aligned with my calendar. Things began falling into place.
  • Determine your goal. Why do you want or need a sabbatical? For some, it’s to fulfill a lifelong dream as it was for me. My goal was simple: I wanted to live in Paris and experience daily life and all that implies: shop for groceries, visit the laundromat, practice my French and just be. Others might look to a sabbatical to volunteer, learn a new skill or pursue a creative endeavor like writing, painting or photography. Figure out how you want to spend your time and how that will enrich your life going forward.
  • Cover your bases. There are, of course, practical concerns to consider when you’re taking a sabbatical. There are companies that now understand the value of sabbaticals–click here for a list of companies that provide sabbaticals (some paid, some unpaid) to their employees. I have a dear friend who worked for Intel and she received a sabbatical while working there. If you are employed you may have to cook up your own sabbatical policy, demonstrating a clear plan to your employer about why they should grant you the time off and how it will benefit the firm. If you are self-employed, you’ll need to shore up your business, communicate with clients and arrange your schedule to accommodate the time away. And if you choose, you can keep a tether to your business from afar, thanks to technology. Just make sure it doesn’t interfere with your goal.
  • Pull the trigger–then enjoy the ride. Taking a sabbatical is scary. You’re disrupting your life and the status quo, suspending time in search of something bigger than yourself, and there are no guarantees. In a Forbes article called “How to Take a Sabbatical from Work,” writer Helen Coster quotes author Dan Clements as saying “The best sabbaticals are taken with a dose of faith.” Mr. Clements, who wrote the book Escape 101: Sabbaticals Made Easy, added “Learn to trust that things will work out.” Once you’ve declared the commitment, determined your goal and covered your bases, all there is to do is pull the trigger and actually do it. Then, be prepared for surprises.

Moi aussiLiving in Paris was nothing like I imagined–yet it was everything I dreamed of. My rusty French came back–at least enough to stimulate my brain and amuse the natives. I learned about the history of Paris in spite of my own appalling lack of study or preparation. And best of all, I immersed myself in art and culture in a way that has sustained me these last four years. That month in Paris reminded me that I live in a world-class city that, just like Paris, is steeped in history and culture. So I’ve made a concerted effort to enjoy the arts here in Chicago in a way I never would have without having taken that sabbatical.

What’s your dream? And when will you be taking your sabbatical in order to fulfill it? I can’t wait to hear from you.  

Postscript: During my month in Paris I revived my first blog, Quotidian Adventureswhich documented my first trip to Paris and then my August 2010 sabbatical. The blog is like a diary in reverse chronological order… please feel free to read and enjoy.]

[Photo credits: Masthead–my photo, Le Jardin de Luxembourg; Inset–livin’ the dream, across the Seine from Notre Dame Cathedral, compliments of friend Leanne Wallisch.]

On Models, Mentors and Asking for Help

Nearly five years ago, Sonia Sotomayor was nominated and appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States as an Associate Justice. As the first Hispanic justice and only the third female justice, she has an extraordinary story of succeeding because of, and in spite of, her humble beginnings. I recently read her memoir, My Beloved World, published in 2013, and was struck by her unflinching report of who she is, who she was and how she came to be.

Sonia SotomayorOne passage struck me in particular. While growing up in the Bronx and attending fifth grade at Blessed Sacrament Parish School, Ms. Sotomayor began to thrive at school when her teacher, Mrs. Reilly, began putting up gold stars each time a student did something well. This really brought out her competitive nature. “I was a sucker for those gold stars!” Ms. Sotomayor writes. She vowed to bring home report cards that would have at least one more “A” than the last one. But a vow, she said, wasn’t enough. She had to figure out how to achieve that goal.

Learning study skills was not something the nuns taught at Blessed Sacrament and Ms. Sotomayor knew instinctively that the kids who were getting the highest marks knew something she didn’t. “It was then, in Mrs. Reilly’s class, under the allure of those gold stars, that I did something very unusual for a child, though it seemed like common sense to me at the time. I decided to approach one of the smartest girls in the class and ask her how to study. Donna Renella looked surprised, maybe even flattered. In any case, she generously divulged her technique…” Ms. Sotomayor writes, skills that may seem obvious but “deriving them on my own would have been like trying to invent the wheel.” Armed with these new skills, she went on to become valedictorian of her high school class and graduated summa cum laude at Princeton, going on to law school at Yale.

But here’s the real nugget of wisdom this story revealed: “…the more critical lesson I learned that day is… don’t be shy about making a teacher of any willing party who knows what he or she is doing. In retrospect, I can see how important that pattern would become for me: how readily I’ve sought out mentors, asking guidance from professors or colleagues, and in any friendship soaking up eagerly whatever that friend could teach me.”

We learn through modeling others. Watching those who succeed where we yearn to succeed, seeking guidance from those who have been there before us and asking for help are critical to the learning process. Sometimes we remain stuck out of hubris, too proud for ask for directions. We think we have to look like we know what we’re doing! But that stops us from receiving the very instruction we need to get to the next step on our journey. Models, mentors, coaches, the buddy system–all of these relationships are strategies to help us on our road to success. And if it works for someone like Sonia Sotomayor, who says she continues to use this strategy even as she sits on the highest court in our land, it can work for us.

[Masthead: David Dyment, “One Billion Years (Past and Future)” color print, 2010, used with permission from the artist]

Promise Made, Promise Kept

My morning ritual consists of several important ingredients, the most critical of which is coffee. Armed with some strong Eight O’Clock Dark Italian Roast coffee, I retreat to my corner of the couch and curl up, ready to begin my day. I read a daily devotional, a faux-leather bound edition of Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (a gift from my friend Katy McDonough), and I usually read it twice because that’s how slow I am. I let the words wash over me and sometimes I even read it aloud. Then I pull out Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach. This book caused quite a sensation when it came out and made Ms. Breathnach a fortune, which she later lost due to an errant and ne’er-do-well husband. That story is detailed in Peace and Plenty: Finding Your Path to Financial Serenity by the same author. I read that next, a chapter or so at a time, to support my own rocky love affair with finances. And I recently I’ve been topping this morning ritual off with a chapter from Tim Sanders’ book Today We Are Rich: Harnessing the Power of Total Confidence. Oh, and then I pray. I guess that’s really the most important ingredient of my morning ritual.

Yes, I admit it, I’m a self-help book addict. I love beginning my day with not only Scripture but with messages from people who have been there, done that, faced adversity and won and who have a story to tell. In Tim Sanders’ book, he lists seven principles of confidence, and the last is “Promise Made, Promise Kept.” He tells a story of a woman who kept a promise not just to herself but to her boss and her physician–to quit smoking. Then she lost a significant amount of weight. She began keeping her promises and as she did so, she built that muscle and got better and better at it. That made me think, what promises am I keeping? And which ones am I failing to keep that, if I just paid more attention, would contribute to my life, my work and my relationships?

Each year I update my strategic marketing plan for my coaching and speaking business, and my first strategy for success is to “maintain and enhance client service.” One of the tactics supporting that strategy, a tactic I include each year, is to “return phone calls within 24 hours.” That’s a promise made but not always a promise kept. Whether it’s a client, a prospective client or a business associate, a family member or a friend, the value of returning that call can make the difference between success and failure. When I don’t return those calls–when I don’t keep my promises–I tend to see myself as a failure.

So today, I’m recommitting to that promise and (gulp) telling the world–that is, YOU. I invite you to hold me accountable to that promise and remind me when I’m breaking it (be gentle with me, I’m still learning). I know that by exercising my promise muscle, I will get stronger and stronger and there’s no tellin’ what might happen.

What promise will you make today, a promise you’re willing to keep?

[Photo: Hummingbird locket, available on Etsy]

Management 101 Revealed at Downton Abbey

When I first heard the buzz about “Downton Abbey,” a popular Masterpiece Theatre series, I wondered what all the fuss was about. Then I watched it–and watched it some more. Now I can’t wait until the stroke of midnight following the show on Sunday night because on Monday, it’s available online on PBS (we don’t have cable). For a while I was so smitten with the series that I tried to get my family to call me “M’Lady.” Alas, to no avail.

I’m not the only one who studies the show from another perspective, observing the relationships between the upstairs and downstairs characters for their lessons in leadership. Mark McKenna Little, a financial advisor who blogs regularly at “Mark McKenna Little’s Advisor PACT (TM) Blog” has written an insightful post “The Downton Abbey Service Model for Trusted Advisors.” In it, he confesses his own addiction to the series and profiles the people on the estate as employees within an organization which, in essence, they are. He also highlights a phrase that had caught my own ear after watching the show consistently: the staff, including the maids, the butlers, the footmen and valets, describe themselves as “in service.” That’s their vocation, their calling–to be “in service” to the aristocracy. With some exceptions (the nefarious Thomas comes to mind), the downstairs characters are dedicated to serving the Crawley family with commitment and devotion. Mr. McKenna Little delightfully dubs the domestic service staff “The Deliverables Team” and, indeed, that is their mission: to deliver. Whether it’s an elaborate picnic in the woods or the nightly meal with all its courses, the domestic staff/Deliverables Team are behind the scenes, making it all happen at the ring of a bell.

Mr. McKenna Little and I agree that those of us in the professional services field–financial advising, speaking, coaching, or any other type of service business–would do well to follow this Downton Abbey Service Model. The model as described in his blogpost delineates the keys to its success: an accepted team leader, process, high standards and accountability, integrity and, most importantly, an overriding theme that says “I’ll take care of it, M’Lord.” That last principle, the not-to-worry-I’ve-got-it-handled message, is summed up by Mr. McKenna Little as a single, overriding success principle: “Service is an attitude, not a process.”

Recently I spoke in Phoenix to the Summit Study Group, a collection of talented wealth management advisors who have formed a mastermind group to share best practices and hold each other accountable for their success. My topic? “The Joys of Strategic Planning.”  Many of these accomplished professionals already have some sort of plan in place and for some it was a new model. I outlined the simple model I use, emphasizing that all good plans start with a mission and a goal: To be of serviceFor financial planners, it may be to help their clients build the wealth that will give them financial freedom. For a speaker, it may be to inspire and motivate her audience to action so they can have a life they love. And for a coach, it’s providing the structure and support for clients to accomplish their own big dreams. At the heart of any professional services business is the goal to make a difference. And we can only do this by being “in service.”

I’ll watch “Downton Abbey” with a new eye, thanks to Mr. McKenna Little and his perspective of the Deliverables Team. And instead of feeling a wave of pity for those who appear to be indentured servants, I’ll think about my own service attitude and how that applies to my relationship with my clients. I’ll practice the art of making it all happen, meeting my clients’ expectations with that aura of effortless ease managed by the Deliverables Team.

Now, if I can just get my family to address me as “M’Lady.”

Luck is Not a Business Model

My son William, an actor, student and short-order cook, recently sent me a blog post by Michael Ruhlman in which Mr. Ruhlman quotes from the book Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook  by Anthony Bourdain. Both profane and profound, Mr. Bourdain has made a career out of his eclectic experience as both chef and author, and his first book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, rocked the culinary world and led to television fame.

The blog post is entitled “So You Wanna Be a Chef” and the excerpt from Mr. Bourdain’s book is a litany of all the reasons not to commit to attending culinary school and/or to the world of professional cooking. He ends his admonition to the reader by admitting that in spite of his own bad choices early in his career, including his battle with addictions, he got lucky. “And luck,” he writes,” is not a business model.”

Those words resonated with me and I hope they will with you, too. Don’t get me wrong–I believe in luck. Every time I circle the block looking for a place to park in downtown Wheaton, I call on the spirit of my deceased father whose “parking karma” was epic. Sure enough, a space opens up for me! I usually give a nod to the heavens and say, ‘Thank you, Daddy.” Is that luck or timing? I don’t question it. I’m just grateful.

My dad was also fond of saying, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” He was a big fan of the “luck-is-not-a-business model” school of thought. A child of the Great Depression, my dad believed in hard work and had my sister and brother and me apply for work permits before the candles were blown out on our sixteenth-birthday cakes. My parents, both influenced by the Protestant work ethic, insisted that we pay for half of anything we wanted to buy that was a big-ticket item. I’d been pocketing cash from a lucrative baby-sitting business since I was 12 and to my luck (there it is again) and delight, we lived next door to a couple who had two small children and who loved to party. This was back in the day when babysitters got paid fifty cents an hour–double after midnight. I committed to saving for my first pair of contact lenses which was going to cost around $100, an astronomical sum to me then. For more than a year I baby-sat to earn my half of the investment and never felt richer than when I had that $50 set aside. Lucky? Maybe. Lucky enough to have parents who taught me the value of hard work.

You’ve heard of the star who is discovered, an “overnight success” who ruefully admits in a magazine interview that there were 20 years leading up to that sudden surge of fame. Nothing happens overnight–at least not that I know of. Those of us who do strategic planning believe in the power of declaration, putting pen to paper (or cursor to mind-mapping for those with a bent toward technology), planting seeds today that we’ll harvest not tomorrow, not even the day after that, but maybe years from now. Success takes vision, patience, tenacity and grit.

And maybe just a little bit of luck.

[Photo by © Ralf Roletschek – Fahrradtechnik und Fotografie]

The Importance of Ritual

While driving through town on a summer’s day, I was struck by the front lawn of a business near the center of town. In front of the office there was a crowd of plastic pink flamingos with a sign that read “Happy Flockin’ 50th, Cindi! Love, Your CST Buddies.”

I circled back around the block and pulled over. I had to take a photo. There was something about the humor in the sign, the mildly naughty play on words (“Happy Flockin’ 50th”), the flamingos, even the word “love,” that touched me. Maybe it’s because I work as a solo business owner and miss the camaraderie of a team… the idea of a group of co-workers happily conspiring to celebrate Cindi’s birthday moved me. Although I’ve never met her, I imagined this Cindi coming to work, startled by the signs, blushing, laughing and enjoying her special day, made all the more special by the people at work.

We underestimate the importance of ritual. Whether it’s something major, like a 50th birthday or graduating from college, or a smaller victory like finishing a project or completing a task, we often forget to observe the rituals that get us from here to there. Rituals imply celebration, completion, the end of something and the beginning of something else.

I heard Gretchen Rubin speak at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, AZ, last week, talking about the sequel to her best-selling book The Happiness Project. Her new book, Happier at Home, delves more deeply into some of the choices we make that either add to our happiness or deplete our joy. One of the rituals she took on was “Give warm greetings and farewells.” I’ve adopted this small ritual of stopping what I’m doing to enthusiastically greet my family when they come through the door, and making sure that I give more than a perfunctory kiss as I say goodbye to my husband Bill. For years I’ve complained that Bill greets our dog, Peanut, with more energy and affection than he greets me. But why not? Peanut goes into paroxysms of joy every time she sees my husband, wagging her tail, going in circles and (he assures me) grinning that big terrier smile… is it any wonder he responds in kind?

Ignoring rituals robs us of the chance to celebrate. I have a beloved client who, after years of a very successful career in finance, chose to go back to school to get her master’s degree. Her undergraduate record was spotty so she was thrilled to be admitted to a prestigious program at a top-rated university based on her stellar work performance and her drive. She admitted that she often suffered from “imposter syndrome” and was waiting for the campus police to bust her, exposing her as a fraud. When she graduated, I insisted that she throw herself a HUGE party to celebrate this wonderful accomplishment. The ritual of celebrating milestones like graduations, birthdays, retirements, quinceañeras, new babies and weddings is critical to our need for acknowledgement, closure and new beginnings.

My friend Lesley is the Queen of Ritual. When Lesley traded in her role as a specialty advertising marketer for a new life as a yoga instructor, she confided that she was having trouble making the break. Old clients were still calling her to place orders for specialty ad items and, as lucrative as that business was, she wanted to complete that chapter and begin her new one. I had an idea: “Let’s throw a party to announce your new life as a yoga diva!” I said. Together, we cooked up the guest list and I hosted a party at a local restaurant to celebrate her new role and announce to the world that she was now a full-time yoga teacher. It worked. Later, when Lesley was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, she threw herself a “Half-Way Through Chemo” party at a local Mexican restaurant. Not only did we celebrate her victory of surviving and buoy her through the next half of her treatments, but she received many, many gifts–a great by-product of ritual! (Who doesn’t like gifts?)

Gretchen Rubin recommends throwing holiday breakfasts for “minor holidays” like Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day… with little investment in paper plates and napkins from the party store, you can gussy up the breakfast table and enjoy the day before it begins. What holiday traditions can you continue, invent or create? At our house, we have a tradition of hanging crêpe paper in the dining room, twisting it through the arms of the chandelier and anchoring it against the walls, to honor a birthday. Then we throw curly multi-colored serpentine party throws over the paper to give the room a crazy, festive look. Without the crêpe paper and the serpentines, it just wouldn’t be a birthday.

So what rituals are you going to celebrate? Maybe you’ve completed your root canal treatment–celebrate! (But not with caramels.) Completing a degree? Throw yourself a party! Changing jobs? Celebrate with some good friends and a bottle of champagne or sparkling juice. Write a comment below to let us know what milestones you’ll be celebrating as you look for opportunities to acknowledge others and yourself.

Bring on the flamingos.

The First Day of the Year

Woke up on the First Day of the Year 2014 to a world covered in snow. While I may curse our fierce Midwestern wind that chills to the bone, I confess I appreciate a good snowfall.

Last night my husband Bill and I attended a New Year’s Eve party with good friends and, arriving fashionably late, we parked at the far end of the street. While walking to the house I reveled in the quiet that snow brings, muffling sound and illuminating the holiday lights around us. I love the scrunchy sound new snow makes when you walk on it. I thanked God for the end of a challenging year and all that brought with it and for the beginning of a brand spankin’ new year. Like snow, the year lies in front of us, a big white blank canvas that is ours to fill with new adventures, achievements, victories and even defeats.

You can’t be on social media today without being pelted by the onslaught of messages regarding New Year’s resolutions, new starts and ways to kick off the year. So I’ll offer just a few thoughts to complement your intake of New Year media:

  • Manage your intake of New Year media and, for that matter, media in general. I’m reading Tim Sanders‘ book Today We Are Rich: Making Total Confidence Work for You and he emphasizes the importance of feeding your mind with inspiration vs. dreck. It’s easy to get sucked into the dark side of the Internet so please monitor your time, and your consumption, of social media in a way that supports you. (My resolution this year: more books, less Netflix.)
  • Build your posse. The essence of being an EveryDay Diva (or Divo), my theme for 2014, is to surround yourself with people who support you, AKA your “posse.” This could include your coach, your counselor/advisor, your mentor, your accountant and bookkeeper, your attorney, your personal fitness coach… anyone who supports you and your career or business, your spiritual growth, your mind and your body. Build that posse so that you always have someone to help you achieve your “fitness” goal in whatever corner of your life you’re working on. My friend and Landmark coach (and now Landmark leader) Kathy Bosco always said “I have a coach in every area of my life I’m committed to.” That simple comment has inspired me over the years.
  • Raise the bar while lowering your expectations. Sounds like a paradox, right? But I think there’s something to be said for increasing our own expectations of ourselves while letting go of the expectations we may have of others. And while you’re at it…
  • Give yourself a break. I mean it. We are so hard on ourselves and give ourselves so little grace! I’m amazed at how tough my clients are on themselves, and part of my gift as a coach is to encourage people to grant themselves and others more grace. I know how hard that is to do. So practice granting yourself some grace in the New Year. Forgive yourself, limit your self-flagellation to 24 hours or less following a mistake and monitor your self-talk. Before your call yourself an idiot, ask yourself, would I say the same thing to a beloved friend or a child? To quote my former beloved pastor Chris Winkler who was paraphrasing a quote by Philo, “Be kind, be kind, for everyone you know is fighting a battle.” And sometimes that means you.

So here’s a toast to you and all that you’re up to in the new year. L’chaim! To life!

(photo credit: from 1000 Awesome Things)

That Time in Between

I love this week between holidays. Christmas is over, save for the shopping for half-price Christmas wrapping, bows, and gifts for next year–and, of course, the clean-up. The New Year is just around the corner, bringing with it the chance to create something new, something profound, a blank slate to fill with accomplishments, achievements and even brand new mistakes. This week is a time for contemplation, planning, celebrating the victories of this waning year and anticipating the new year to come.

This is the time to complete the past and create a new vision for the future. What’s your vision for 2014? Do you have your “theme” for the year? Mine is “The Year of the EveryDay Diva.” I’ve redefined diva to mean a woman who 1) knows what she wants; 2) knows how to get what she wants and 3) honors the people who support her. This can be gender-neutral, by the way… guys can be “divos.”

As you peer into the future, what do you see? I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions because too often they’re short-lived promises related to weight loss and going to the gym. But I do believe strongly in the power of intention and the law of attraction, another reason I like this time of year so much. We have this glorious week to think about what we want to generate in the New Year, declaring our intentions and deciding what it is, exactly, that we want to attract. Good health? Goes without saying. Properity and abundance? For everyone! Making a difference in the world through whatever gifts we’re given… that’s my intention for all of us.

Whether you create the future year in declaration, speaking it to others, through creating a collage with images from photos & magazines or updating your strategic plan, enjoy this week as a preamble to the year ahead. Take the time to congratulate yourself for all you’ve accomplished this year. Forgive yourself for what you missed. And document your vision for 2014. Next December, you’ll be glad you did.

Happy New Year!